Welcome back to the Commands of Christ blog series where we are examining together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus which are essential for new disciples to understand and obey. If you missed the first two posts in this series, you can find them by clicking Repent and Believe and Be Baptized.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post, we will look at the third of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This third command is to pray. Most people have an idea of what praying is, but why is it so important?
In Matthew 6:9-13, we find Jesus telling us how to pray, and every one of my generation can almost certainly recite this model prayer because when we were in elementary school, this prayer was recited every morning before school began. It is commonly called the Lord’s prayer.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 5, 6 and 7 are referred to as the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus went up onto a mountain to teach the people. It is Jesus’ longest, most detailed teaching recorded in the Gospels. It contains some of the most essential principles for living a genuine Christian life.
According to John R.W. Stott, “The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly, it is the least obeyed” (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 1973, p. 15).
So, as disciples who want to obey everything that Jesus commanded us, prayer is something that we must do.
The first reason we must pray is that, without God, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He is the Creator and sustainer of all things, including ourselves, so it makes sense that we would communicate with Him. Prayer is an indicator of the relationship and a way to develop that relationship.
The second reason is that He tells us that He will hear us when we pray. That’s an incredible thing. We have the ear of the Creator of all things, the King of kings. Nothing could be more compelling for prayer than this reality.
There are many other reasons why we need to pray. Prayer will help us recognize and remember that we are not God. We realize that there is strength to be gained from God Himself. We will better understand that things do not begin and end with us. We learn how to surrender control to God, admitting that He is better in the driver’s seat than we. We are able to communicate our true feelings in a safe space. The more we come to trust that God hears our prayers, the more we come to trust Him with the outcomes. Through prayer, we can be encouraged to take steps of faith. And we have the assurance that God is waiting to act in response to prayer
So how should we pray? In the book of Matthew passage, Jesus gives a model for prayer and it is a good one.
“Our Father in heaven...” - acknowledge who God is and who you are - Father, child.
“hallowed be Your name...” - this is a request, not a statement of praise - asking that God’s name be hallowed means to ask that God would be glorified in my life and that men and women from every people group would also glorify God.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done…” - I must surrender to God’s kingdom and His will being done in and through my life.
“Give us this day our daily bread…” - I must go to God to meet all of my needs.
“Forgive us our debts…” ask for forgiveness of my sins and acknowledging the necessity of forgiving others.
“Deliver us from evil…” - I must pray for deliverance when I face temptation.
So how does this sound to you? Scary? Intriguing? Exciting? Or utterly confusing?
All of those are natural responses. Prayer is a mysterious activity because, in prayer, you choose to humble yourself before someone you cannot literally see, hear or touch.
Perhaps you could use some structure to get you started. There is an app that can offer a great deal of help with prayer. It is called “Try Praying.” It is available in Google Play, the Apple Store and the Windows Store.
So, what now?
Listen to Jesus and do what He says. Commit to pray daily. Pray for the lost and for more labourers (Matthew 9:37-38).